A DAY after a minor girl from the Maratha community was allegedly sexually abused by a teenaged Dalit boy, locals from Talegaon village in Nashik’s Trimbakeshwar town torched government buses on Sunday and pelted stones at the convoy of Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan. The mob also attacked the car of Nashik Inspector General of Police Vinaykumar Choube. The villagers took to the streets after Mahajan, who is also the Guardian Minister of Nashik, said it was a case of “attempt to rape” and not that of rape, as alleged by the villagers.
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“We have invoked Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (rape) and certain sections of the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act. The accused, who is a minor, has been arrested,” said Nashik District Collector Radhakrishnan B.
He added that the priority was to control the law and order situation. “Some buses and private vehicles were set ablaze by the mob. We have sent more policemen in the area and our immediate priority is to bring the law and order situation under control,” said Radhakrishnan.
The incident comes barely three months after a 14-year-old was gangraped and murdered in Kopardi village of Ahmednagar district. Since the July 13 incident, Maharashtra has been witnessing silent protests by Marathas across the state, who are demanding amendment to the SC/ST atrocities Act.
While the police have invoked rape charge based on the statement of the five-year-old victim, they have sent the girl’s blood and urine samples and vaginal swabs for chemical analysis.
According to a relative, the alleged crime took place Saturday afternoon. The victim was playing with her seven-year-old sister in their courtyard when the accused allegedly lured the girls with chocolates. He then took the girls to an abandoned school building nearby and allegedly started abusing them. While the seven-year-old managed to escape, the five-year-old could not, said the relatives.
“The elder sister managed to flee and raised an alarm. The parents rushed to the spot along with a few villagers and caught the accused red-handed,” said a relative. “The girl was badly bruised,” claimed the relative.
The police, however, said no serious injuries were seen on the victim’s body. “However, since the victim is a minor, inappropriate touching also amounts to rape under the amended provision of IPC and the new Act,” said a senior police officer.
As the news spread, angry villagers staged a ‘rasta roko’ in adjoining Wadovhare, Ghoti and Anjaneri-phata areas Saturday night. Most villagers were assembled through various WhatsApp groups. A group also protested at the Nashik Civil Hospital and demanded that the victim be examined by a female doctor.
However, relatives of the victim alleged that the medical report was changed from ‘rape’ to ‘attempt to rape’ by the hospital staff. The hospital, however, said there was only one report and that was submitted to the police Saturday night.
The situation went out of control Sunday, with a mob torching buses and attacking private vehicles at Talegaon. Police had to lob teargas shells and fire some rounds in the air.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the Nashik case would be fast-tracked and the culprit subjected to stern punishment. Assuring that the police would immediately file the chargesheet and justice would be delivered, he urged people not to resort to violence.
Meanwhile, many schools in the district have decided to remain closed on Monday.